Session Presentation: Technology in Transportation

Session Presentation: Technology in Transportation

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Hello, and thank you for joining the presentation.  My name is Mike Tavani. I'm a Utility and Grade   Crossing Administrator with the Department  of Transportation here in Pennsylvania.   Today, we're going to be looking at the  Utility Relocation Management System.   This is a web-based application that we  put into production in November of 2020. So, before we get into the new application,  I just want to touch on exactly   what sent us down the road of developing a  new application to manage utility relocations.   I think it's no surprise to everybody, especially  those here participating today, that you know   utilities do present a huge risk to most highway  and bridge projects. They're a huge risk. They're  

especially a risk in construction. They're a  huge risk to the project's schedule overall.   One of the most difficult things  that PennDOT has discovered is   being able to substantiate utility claims  after construction projects been delayed.   That's where I listed here: show me the  data. It's difficult to find that data   given PennDOT's current recording  of utility involvement in the field.  

Next is, you know, if we're going to be looking  at the utility involvement with a more powerful   microscope, and we also need to be looking at  ourselves too. Is there anything that we are doing   here at the department to contribute to project  delays when it comes to involving utilities? So   not only was the application aimed at trying to  improve the coordination with just utilities,   but also aimed to help us clean up, you know,  some of the practices that perhaps weren't ideal   in our efforts to coordinate with  utilities. Our previous application URDEMS   was showing its age quite a bit. It was developed  in 2004 and put into production in 2005.   I'm sure you can imagine thinking  back to your cell phone in 2005,   the technology back then. It really wasn't  that robust. The internal users would have to   utilize it on a PennDOT network in our business  partner web portal, which was added in 2006.  

Was not much more than a FTP site. For  those that remember what an FTP site is. So part of the project kickoff we undertook a  process mapping the utility relocation process   within the department. This helped us identify  certain gaps that existed in our current process.   One of those gaps that's most notable was  the gap between design and construction.  

When a project was fully coordinated, and we had  a utility clearance in hand, and where the project   would be advertised and put out for a leading,  the design group, you know, would move on to   the next project because there's always the next  project, and the construction group would pick   that project up and carry it forth. You know, to  take it into construction and get it constructed,   and a lot of information was lost,  you know, in that transition.   Second here is we had a sharp two product that  we were working with which was managing utility   conflicts. This was a great product.  We were fortunate to get some training   to our project management teams, also our utility  units, by utilizing this particular sharp 2   product. It really ended up being the driving  force and probably the heart of our app, our  

new application. We also reached out to some of  our utility partners. We met with them in person,   asked them what their pain points were with  PennDOT projects. We also wanted to know what was   in their toolbox in terms of managing our project  load. You know, what kind of tools they were   using, what kind of applications they were using,  reports and so forth, to manage our workload,   and then we went out to our PennDOT districts and  we interviewed them to find out some of the same   information. You know, what are they using outside  of our current PennDOT applications to manage  

their project load. You know, what would make  their life easier, what would get them back to   focusing on utility coordination rather than  process and paper. So a culmination of all this   quite informed the development team and  kind of laid the groundwork in the roadmap,   you know, for the for the future development  of our application. So our new application   is a web-based app and we like to say that  it was created to deliver and communicate   project information to involve utilities. We also  describe it as a project collaboration platform.  

A place where everyone involved in a project  can come and collaborate and coordinate   any of their involvements. Whether it be with  another utility or with a department or with a   municipality, one of our many municipalities. The  application is being released in three phases.   The first release went live into  production in November 2020.   Second release was done so in May 2021,  and our third and final release is coming   up here in November this year. Since November  of 2020, we've accumulated almost 1,700 users.  

About 1300 of those users are what we call  B- users. So these are users like utilities,   utility consultants, also PennDOT consultants,  and a little less than 500 of the users are actual   Department of Transportation employees,  so these are project managers,   district utility coordinators,  administrators, and so on. So during our utility interviews, one of  the most consistent pain points brought up   was the inconsistencies across our districts and  how they communicated and coordinated projects   with utilities, and while we do have a  design manual which was our guiding policy,   that doesn't necessarily mean that every district  utilize technology to communicate with the various   utilities in a consistent manner. So it was  important for us to bring some of that consistency  

and add some structure to it and on  screen, you'll see here, we have about nine   project statuses. These project  statuses end up being very meaningful.   They have specific business rules built into them  which means that when you see a project status   of any of these, you know that there's critical  project milestones that have been met, you know,   in order for that project to make it that far. So  it also helps give our project teams, our project   management teams, some easily not recognizable  statuses for them to know that the project has   crossed certain project thresholds and is ready,  perhaps, for the next step of the process. As I'd indicated earlier during  the development of the project   and the application, we identified that the  conflict management approach was something   that we wanted to integrate into our app, and we  did. So what you see here up on screen is just a  

screen capture of the UCM, or the Utility Conflict  Matrix. It provides us a place to record/identify   utility conflicts and manage those conflicts  and risks on an individual basis. It gives   transparency to not only our project team but also  the utilities as to, you know, what facilities   we've identified and what kind of recommendations  we have relative to those conflicts that we've   found throughout our reviews  and development of our project. Not only does it capture information that's  meaningful to the designers and utilities,   but it also captures information that is going  to be useful when it comes time to look at   cost obligations and reimbursement to utilities,  so we're able to leverage this conflict matrix   not only from a technical perspective  but also from an administrative   standpoint and help facilitate those  utility agreements further down the line.

One pain point that was consistent almost  across all utilities that we interviewed   was the variation in communication  styles that varied across the different   project teams throughout our program. So whether  it was PennDOT employees contacting utilities,   design consultants working for the  department, design build contractors   trying to design and construct projects in  the field, or even local project sponsors,   utilities were being hit with correspondence  and informations from so many different ways   that they indicated that it was difficult to  know, you know, what was the latest information   on a given project. So we sought out to   consolidate all those communications under  one umbrella, and that's our application.   It was in the application. You're able to build  a project team, not only a design project team   for the highway project or the bridge project,  but the utility has the same ability to do so.   They can add a design contact, an administrative  contact, or a construction team member. In  

addition to that, these various team members  are then utilized, or these roles are utilized,   to distribute different correspondence, different  plans, different deliverables, and also to give   friendly task reminders of outstanding items that  are necessary for the delivery of that project. In the end, the goal was to be able to  build a team and then keep that team   as informed as you can on a given project. Sharing a mutually beneficial data, we knew right  away from the get-go that we would not be able to   increase our usership of our application unless  some of the information in our app, some of the   features of our application, were beneficial  to the utilities, so with that we developed our   application always with the mindset of, you know,  what can we do to help provide information that's   beneficial to not only the department but also  to our utility partners. So some of that can be direct access to our environmental documents,  direct access to a given company's hop history.   So if I'm a gas company, I can see my  hop highway occupancy permit history   directly within the application. I can see what  bridge attachments I have. Our one map provides  

a whole lot of information that's useful to  different permitting agencies and utilities trying   to seek for those permits. You'll also notice  throughout our application that any time there's   a list, you're able to export it and directly  download it to excel and take that file and   and utilize it to populate their own enterprise  systems, so again, mutually beneficial data   we knew would be a commodity that would help  us increase the ship across our application. So another factor that the utilities indicated  to us was it was a pain point was making sure   that they always had the most reliable  and up-to-date project plans, schedule,   and information. So there's various screens  throughout our application that provide that   to the utilities. This one in particular that's  on screen is what we call our project checklist.  

Now this is a view from the PennDOT side, or  the utility or the PennDOT consultant side   of it because you're seeing all the utilities  involved on the project. A utility would only see   themselves if they were logged in as a utility,  but this gives them a single view, single page,   where they can go get all the pertinent  deliverables, see all the plans that were   associated with a project. All the past versions  of those plans are available to them here along   with some additional information, but again, this  brings it all into one page, onto one location,   so that they can be assured that they have the  most up-to-date info on any given project. I had   mentioned earlier that one of the largest gaps in  our process ended up being the transition between   design and construction. This is one of the  solutions that we utilize to help fill that gap   throughout the project  coordination with utilities.   We would develop a list of different relocation  activities that are necessary. On screen,  

you'll see a few of those particular activities  like install new poll, install conductors.   These are activities that are easily recognizable  by highway inspection staff, and it gives them   the ability to keep track of, you know, what kind  of progress a utility is having out in the field.   This information is then batched and  sent and fed back to our application   in a nightly process, so this gives  our utility partners and ourselves   an insight to what's happening in the field  on any given project on any given day. So, in order to wrap up our presentation  here, there's quite a few things that   we don't have time quite to show everybody, but  there's quite a bit more to our application than   just a few screens that i was able to show you  today. So anything from handling of the utility   occupancy permits to production of notice to  proceeds, capturing of cost estimates, production   of reimbursement agreements. Pennsylvania does  cost share with our municipalities when we impact   them on our projects. So we quite often are  sharing in those costs with our municipalities  

which have to be done by an agreement, and we also  allow utilities to invoice us via our application.   There's so much more to the application, and  I wish I had more time for you here today   but I'd be more than happy to take some questions  here at the end before we get to some questions.   I just want to touch on one of the probably the  most difficult things was for us to launch an app   during a pandemic. We were originally slated  to launch our app in March of 2020. We had   training lined up with our various utility  partners. We had it scheduled rooms booked,   computer labs booked across the commonwealth, and  we were all prepared to do in-person training.   Then everything went on lock down and pretty  much turned our training plan on its head.  

So what we ended up doing was we fell back  and it's began to develop a suite of about   70 videos. These videos range in duration  from anywhere from one to three minutes,   and they go specific to the topic so, and we have  them organized by the different project statuses   that are built into the system. So depending what  project status you're at, you would navigate to   this page, go to that project status, find  the topic that you were hung up on, and then   watch a short video on exactly how to utilize  that particular feature of the application. So again, that was quite a bit of  information in a short period of time,   and our application has so many features that it  would be difficult to even do this in an hour, but   I would encourage everyone to utilize the link on  the page here. You can go to, and once you get there, we have a couple  various links here on our home page if   you want to register for an account, if you're a  utility in Pennsylvania or a consultant designer   that operates and does work for the Department of  Transportation here in Pennsylvania. I'd encourage  

you to go ahead and register on the bottom of  the page. We have three links. We have a what's   new that'll take you to a webpage right here at, and on that webpage, there's various   information flyers, newsletters. We do have a  newsletter that goes out about every quarter now.   If you need help registering, there's  a help right to register button there   that'll show you the YouTube video,  and then there's a contact us there   if you have any questions about the application,  you can drop us a note by clicking that. And with that, I'd just like to thank everyone  for taking the time to watch the presentation   here today and for participating in the Innovation  Days. Again my name is Mike Tavani. My information   is up on the screen. Don't hesitate to  reach out to me with any inquiries about  

our application or any questions in general  about our utility or grade crossing program.   I'd be willing to take any questions that you  have at this moment, so I'll go ahead and turn   it over back to the moderator, and if you have  any questions, feel free to ask now. Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Piervincenzo  Rizzo. I am a professor in the Department of Civil   Environmental Engineering at the University  of Pittsburgh. Today we'll talk about  

a project that has been conducted and is being  conducted with the support of the offender with   work order zero zero three, and this project  is about assessing structural monitoring for   rich structures. Briefly, the outline of the  presentation. I will introduce the concept of SHM,   and then I'll briefly review the scope of  work of the project, and most of my talk   will be about presenting some of the findings  of the first three tasks of the project. I will   end my presentation with the conclusions and  then I will open the floor to the Q and A.   So what these structural monitoring of,  structural monitoring can be defined as   the non-invasive 24/7 monitoring of engineering  structures with the scope of detect anomalies or   to characterize the static and dynamic response  of those structures to external loadings.   Systems typically measure individual parameters  such as a strain acceleration just to mention a   few. While hardware and software store the  data, stream the data, and process the data  

in order to extract damage sensitive features or  to strut information that can be used by engineers   to understand that the structural response, the  dynamic response of those structure to external   loadings a typical schematics of structured  monitoring for bridges is presented here.   There is a given structure with the sensors that  are installed in some components that are deemed   to be critical, and then the data are stored  into a repository and then processed in order   to provide safe all alert messages to the  bridge owners or to whoever is interested   on these structures to guarantee the safety and  the continuous operation of the structure itself.   Why? For bridges, there are many reasons. The two  most important to me are again detecting defects  

that might have occurred or might have been  exacerbated between the two maintenance schedules,   and also to verify the long-term performance  of the bridge itself under environmental and   traffic condition. The project, the scope of work,  consists of ten tasks which in a nutshell are   summarized here. I emphasize the involved,  the tasks that I will be talking about today   which are monitoring the U.S. bridge health  monitoring programs over the last 20 years.   Focus on the 10 bridges in Pennsylvania  that are part of the PennDOT pilot bridge   instrumentation program, and then summarize the  conditions of these 10 bridges based on the last   bridge inspection reports, and last but not  least, for today, to provide some analysis of   the data that the sensors read from the field  and then are stored into a remote repository.   So let's begin with the task one. The  scope. For the main scope of this task  

one is a thorough review of current and  past SHM systems installed in U.S. bridges   we look at. We looked at peer-reviewed  documents and other technical reports   that are a public domain, and we identified the  67 bridges that have been instrumented with some   sensors and with a clear SHM strategy in  mind. This is a list of 27 out of 67 bridges,   and this the partial list is organized  according to the brief type. So   what were our main conclusions for this  task one? We found that the main sensing   methods are based on accelerometers  displacement strain and temperature.  

Many programs include at least three different  sensor types. One to collect ambient conditions,   for example, temperature and wind condition. One  is to collect a static deformation, for example,   strain gauges, and the one is to collect dynamic  responses, for example accelerations. Strain   gauges are by far the most common sensor type  installed on those bridges. A surprise to us, and   they can elaborate more at the end, is that most  of these programs really consisted on monitoring   a few load truck tests at most. At least this is  what has been reported in the literature so only   a few programs consist of monitoring structures  for a few months. One-two months, and a very few  

programs really consisted about monitoring the  bridge for more than two years. For the sake of   time, I cannot elaborate more but I encourage  you, we encourage those of you that might be   interested at looking at these three documents  that we have published as a part of a task one   outcome. task two was about focusing our interest  on the 10 bridges that are part of the pilot   instrumentation program initiated by PennDOT a  few years ago. This is the list of the 10 bridges,   and as you can see, most of them are located in  southwest Pennsylvania, and I'm very fortunate   that four bridges for three bridges are actually  in the city of Pittsburgh, and a few others are   very close to Pittsburgh. So I don't have to drive  much if I need to see those bridges in person.   One of the main outcome of this task two was to  summarize the current rating of two of those ten   bridges, and the ratings were based on the  latest inspection reports. Now keep in mind   that this table was created in summer 2020, so  since then maybe one or two newest reports were   published and maybe the ratings would went up.  We don't know this, but again, as you can see,  

the numbers for some bridges look a bit critical.  So task three is what is a as escaped us quite   busy over the last year because what we did is  that we analyze the massive amount of data that   were streamed from those bridges into a repository  that we had access to. So we created our own   signal processing and statistic analysis in order  to identify the challenges associated with SHM   in order to address some of those challenges  and in order to provide solutions to those   challenges. One of the example of these challenges  is presented here with this graph. What you see  

here is a graph obtained during a track test,  and in the vertical axis, we have the strain.   What we call this raw strain as a red as measured  by the strain gauge, and along the abscissa, the   horizontal axis, we have the time frame between  6 a.m to 4 p.m on July 25th 2018. When a truck,   a control low track test, was performed as you can  clearly see the data, the strain data, the stream   measurement are heavily biased. There is a D  strand, and this trend is the simple effect of the   increase of the temperature of the bridge which  changes the, which is the former to some extent   the bridge itself. So the peak values that are  associated with the track are actually biased   in absolute terms are biased by the temperature  changes. So what we did is to develop some simple  

strategy, some simple signal processing in order  to mitigate the effect, and now, as you can see   without the truck, basically the bridge the strain  is close to zero and the peaks are associated   with the true weight of the truck only,  and this makes easy the analysis and   interpretation of the data. Especially if we  want to correlate the strain to a real weight   on the structure. Another example is presented  here is the analysis of the acceleration data from   another bridge. Some of these data, some of  these peaks, are actually false positives   associated with electromagnetic interference, but  overall, we developed a single processing strategy   that was able to determine the natural vibration  of the part of the bridge where the accelerometer   was located that you can see here the frequencies  are three-eighths eleven hertz and twenty-two   watts, but also identify a sort of peak event that  we're likely associated with the some heavy truck   that caused some anomalous vibration on the  structure itself. Another thing that we did and   we believe that represent a great value for bridge  engineers is to monitor and compare the raw strain   and also the true strength. The raw strain to  temperature changes basically we were able to see  

whether or not different strain gauges responded  equally to the decrease of the temperature.   This was particularly important in our  opinion to compare adjacent strain gauges   because different responses might be symptomatic  of differences on the adjacent components of the   bridges, or the unsymmetric response of the  bridge to identical environmental loadings.   So this is another thing that we believe can be  done with structural monitor. So in conclusion, we  

provided and we investigated the value that  SHM can bring to the public, to PennDOT   and in general, to DOT agencies in terms of  information that can be extracted from those   sensing systems. Definitely there  are a few things that needs to be   kept in mind. The first of all, an adult signal  processing is needed to mitigate or eliminate   for example temperature bias, but also to analyze  and make sense of the terabyte of data that are   streamed by those sensors in real time every  day. Another thing that we believe this project  

is brought to the public is the fact that we have  real data from real bridges. For so many months,   or for so many years, it's very important and can  help the SHM community to grow and and be more   effective at providing the information that the  DOT owners, the DOTs needs and wants. I like to   keep in mind that SHM is a very young discipline  compared to more traditional disciplines such as   bridge inspections. So, the application of SHM  might be more complicated, but not necessarily   more expensive than expected, and there is a  lot of research out there that are trying to   develop strategies to make the analysis of the  data more automatic, more effective, and more   intuitive to the general public and  to the engineers. Let me acknowledge,   in conclusion once more, PennDOT for  funding this project, and my grad student,   Alireza, for being such a great asset for  this project, and also I'd like to acknowledge   many people at PennDOT that contributed to this  project with the productive and constructive   feedbacks that we received almost  on a everyday basis, and with that   I conclude my talk and I open the  floor to the questions. Thank you.

Good day. My name is Nick Vivian. I'm the  Hydrology and Hydraulic Unit Manager in the   Bureau of Project Delivery in the environmental  policy and development section. It's my pleasure   to present to you the innovation of Displaying  PennDOT Assets on Pennsylvania USGS Stream Gages.  

This presentation will address the  innovative idea presented by Athena Clark,   P.E. of the USGS Southeast Region Science  Center. The USGS recognized that the data   they were collecting was not being portrayed in  an understandable manner to the general public   due to the fact the organization focuses  on delivering data from a scientific   or engineering perspective. This is not easily  understandable and usable by the public as well   as state and local agencies, particularly county  emergency management, to allow them to be able   to make quick decisions to ensure safety. This  innovation solves the challenge with the public  

and provides opportunity to expand and  collaborate with the state and local agencies.   This next slide provides an overview of  the recognized challenges with the display   and database of the USGS stream gages. As you  can see, it provides very limited details and   leaves a lot of questions to the average user  questions like what is the point of reference,   what elevation is the stream bed, how  can you tell if and when it will flood. The graphic in the lower right hand corner   is an example of some of the social media  questions that the USGS is receiving.   As you can see, this one is asking specifically  for training on how to read this gauge data.

Another issue not apparent to the average  user is that the vertical datum of the   gauges vary depending on the location and  the date it was installed. Additionally,   an updated North American vertical datum is  expected to be implemented next year in 2022.   These are very similar challenges the department  faces whenever we're doing a new project or a   rehabilitation project. A lot of the old plans are  in the north of America vertical datum of 1929 or  

the North America vertical datum of 1988. This  inconsistencies will have to be corrected. Through survey and data acquisition  by the USGS for each gauge, continuing with the challenges, it's important  to explain that the National Weather Service is   in the forecasting business where the USGS is  in is concerned with collecting empirical data   and data delivery. So the National  Weather Service basically uses radar,   it tells and informs the public of how much  precipitation is expected to fall at a particular   location where the USGS gauges measure exactly how  much of that precipitation fell at that location.   It's important to note the percentage of the USGS  stream gauges that double as forecasting sites   are less than 41 percent. There's roughly  9,054 observation sites, and of those, 3,689  

are forecast sites. If you look at the graphics  that are contained in this slide, the one to the   left shows the observation sites and the one  in the upper right shows the forecast sites. After examining these facts, what was observed  from the current process, well it occurred to the   USGS that empirical data measured at each gauge  could be used to inform emergency management   decisions as long as that data was delivered in a  format that is quickly understandable and usable   by the public. A benefit of this is that it is not  forecasting and outside the mission of the USGS.   It is a data delivery keeping with  the original mission of the agency.   What changes can be made to deliver better  usable data to the public? Well one of the   first solutions to implement was to collect new  survey data that includes latitude, longitude,   and elevation of key features for all new gauge  sites, as well as updated existing gauge sites   including keeping all these gauges  and data consistent on one common   vertical datum. Another solution was  also to partner with other agencies  

such as PennDOT and share survey data  to minimize cost and streamline delivery   when you think about all the gauges that the USGS  has most of those gauges are mounted to a bridge   or some type of structure and it's usually owned  by another state agency or a local municipality. Now, to go and break down some  examples of those key features   right here on this particular graphic,  we show some of those key features   right around the stream gage. As that you can  see there, it's mounted to the bridge structure.   So some of the key features shown on this  graphic include the channel bed and banks,   so a half full and a full stage can be  represented, the nearest street, that being   a local street, or a particular state route.  As I mentioned before, the bridge deck itself   and other items that may be appropriate, such  as finish, floor elevations of buildings, or   dwellings, this additional collection of features  is very reasonable and does not take a lot of time   when the crew surveying and collecting the data  for the USGS gauge are performing the field work. The additional features will then be entered into  the USGS stream gauge plot as thresholds. This   gives the public a better understanding of what  is happening with the water surface elevation in   the channel because there is now a point of  reference to compare to. The graphic to the  

right shows the key features entered as threshold  values and the acquire USGS's AQUARIUS system. What are the next steps? Well,   next step is where PennDOT is helping out. A lot  of these gauges, as I said before, are attached to   Department bridges that were reconstructed or  rehabilitated recently. The USGS is currently   collaborating with us and sending us a  list of their gauges attached to bridges,   along with the latitude and longitude of each  location. Our staff and the Department is polling   plans for each one of these locations and sharing  survey data to help streamline this process.   As you can see on the graphic on this slide, you  can see a USGS gauge mounted to the structure   on the bridge.

Once this process is complete, the data will be  easily usable by the public. Some examples of how   the data will be used are shown on this slide.  The public can now go directly to the gate site   and get information quickly.  The thresholds will appear  

when the water surface level  reaches specified elevation. The gauge height in feet does not matter  anymore because there is a real world landmark   to reference from. Here are some examples of how  the data can be used by the public in emergency   management. So, the graphic in front of you  shows that the gauge height is at half bank full   threshold. Something you may want to ask  yourself is, should I be concerned? Well, maybe.   The channel is half full. This might be something  you want to continue to watch or monitor.   Another example, another threshold  gauge height, is it bank full.  

Should the public be  concerned? Yeah, probably. So,   the water is getting ready to come out of  the stream, the river, the ditch, the swell. Gauge height just reached  the elevation of avenue W   or avenue H or your local church  street, whatever it may be.  

Should I be concerned? Well, yes. The street  is flooded. She's beginning to cut off access. Again, same thing for the last bullet for  the bridge deck threshold. The gauge height   just flooded the bridge. Should you be  concerned? Absolutely. Cut off access. This particular slide represents the  possibilities for future upgrades.   The partnership with the state and  local agencies will be significant   upgrade to the current mode of operation. This  graphic or example shows possible enhancements  

once the data is complete. The goal would be for  the USGS system to talk first and foremost with   PennDOT systems, as well as other important state  agencies, such as emergency management again at   the state level, PIMA, and at the county level,  county emergency management. Future upgrades   being considered would be an interactive map  that shows flooding in real time. This graphic  

here shows pictures developed to represent  the key features of channel bank half full,   full roadway over top bridge over top, and  then in any structure dwellings are inundated   and the nice graphics and pictures developed. It  helps the public look at the map very quickly. Take in the information and make a quick decision  on what to do. In conclusion, this slide displays   an example of the finished product once the  key feature thresholds are entered. Here's an   example of a bridge deck. It's represented  by the red line on the USGS gauge graph.  

You can clearly see that the water surface  elevation is slightly below the bottom of the   beams on the bridge deck. Compare this to the  existing way that the structure was monitored   to the picture to the right. There were four  people that would drive around during a storm   event. Again, not very safe, and take field  measurements, so this is a perfect example of   why real time information and having a reference  point on the USGS gauge graph is prudent.

This concludes the presentation about this  particular innovation, and I will gladly address   any questions you may have. Hello, my name is Drew  Ames. I am the Environmental Planning Manager in   the environmental policy and development section  of the Bureau of Project Delivery, and I'm here   to talk today about our Environmental Commitments  and Mitigation Tracking System, which is an ECMTS,   and how we replace an unreliable paper-based  system with one in ECMTS that works a lot better. So, before getting into the system, I'd like  to talk a little bit about what environmental   commitments are. When environmental mitigation  is the CEQ, the council on environmental quality,   which is an office of the White House,  defines mitigation as a series of   escalating actions that we can take to offset  impacts to the environment from our projects.   So at the lowest level is avoiding the impacts  altogether and examples of that would include and   a restriction on when we can do certain activities  to a time of year. For instance, when we cut  

trees, we do a time of year restriction to avoid  cutting trees when endangered bats are roosting in   those trees. So we avoid the impact by placing  a time of year restriction. Minimizing impacts   can include things that we do during design to  shift the alignment of a roadway or to specify   steeper slopes. When we have a cut to reduce,  the amount of right-of-way that we need to take   rectifying the impact is putting things  back the way they were when we're done,   and reducing or eliminating the impact over time  can include some of the work that we do on stream   banks. For instance, doing stream bank restoration  or placing certain structures within the stream   to help establish fish habitat. That takes  time to really become effective, and finally,  

compensating for the impact is what examples  include paying into a fund like the bat fund   that's dedicated managed by another agency.  That's dedicated to establishing bad habitat   or compensating property owners for property  that we take. So these are all different kinds   of actions that we take that we are required to do  by law when we have an impact to the environment.

The Federal Highways regulations, as well  as other regulations that we follow in the   environmental process, state that mitigation must  be included as an integral part of alternatives   development and analysis. So when we're looking  at different ways of addressing project needs,   different ways of building the project, we look at  different impacts those alternatives would have,   and we consider how we mitigate  those impacts. At the same time,   agencies are responsible for  identifying and including all   relevant and reasonable mitigation measures  that could improve the action. So we're on the   hook to look for ways of reducing our impact,  on mitigating for impacts, and that process   of reducing or mitigating for impact starts at the  beginning of the NEPA process. As soon as we start   scoping under the National Environmental Policy  Act. The environmental process that we follow,   we start looking for ways to mitigate  for impacts that our project may have.

So why do these commitments matter?   PennDOT and federal highways make binding  promises to take certain actions during and   after construction. Those promises are what  help us get the NEPA approval, and failure   to fulfill those promises results in construction  delays and the possible loss of federal funding.   So a very simple example, if we make a commitment  to not stage construction materials in the parking   lot of a nearby park, and the contractor goes  ahead and stages in that location anyway,   we will shut down the project until they  move stuff out and make other arrangements.   So there's a delay that happened because  the mitigation commitment was not honored. Which is why we have the Environmental  Commitment and Mitigation Tracking system.   This policy is in appendix T of design  manual 1X. It is required on all projects,  

and we start tracking with NEPA  approval. So during the NEPA process,   we identify the mitigation commitments that  we're going to take once that approval happens,   whether it's a categorical exclusion evaluation,  an environmental assessment, or an environmental   impact statement. Once those approvals happen,  then we start tracking what happens to them   after NEPA. The ECMTS really has two functions.  To ensure that the commitments and mitigation   activities happen during construction, and then  to document that they were met. So when federal   highways asked us about those activities in  the future, we can show that they were done.

So, the original mitigation tracking system was  a spreadsheet, and this is a screenshot showing   how it was filled out. The main point isn't  necessarily what it says. The main point is   that this spreadsheet is an excel file that  had to be filled out manually and sent from   the project manager or the consultants,  with help from the environmental staff,   to the folks managing the contract  and advertising to the contractor. This is a screenshot of the signature sheet  that we expected the contractor and the   inspector in charge to fill out when each  activity was completed during construction.  

Again, another paper file. This was a word file. So, the prior paper-based system was not working  well. Federal Highways did an IOP review in 2017   and found that, of the projects that were reviewed  that were in construction during this IOP,   43 percent exhibited non-compliance with  environmental mitigation commitments.   There were 16 instances of non-compliance,  and the most common violation was   having to do with an aid to navigation  sign in, a stream not being installed.   But there were other examples. Cemetery access  that was closed that we promised to keep open.   Exclusionary construction fencing  around wetlands that was not installed   and were not actually depicted on the project  plans, even though we promised to put them up,   and a recreational trail that was closed  even though we had promised to keep it open.  

These are some of the examples that were found.  Additionally, not everybody at the project site   knew about the mitigation tracking system  or the spreadsheet or the signature sheet.   Not all individuals could locate it, and there were three projects that were reviewed  that did not have a special provision   requiring the ECMTS to be maintained,  and that is something that the policy   required, and even when they did have the  spreadsheet, not all of the commitments   appeared on the spreadsheet that we had  promised to do during the NEPA process. So, as part of responding to the IAP  finding, we started really digging to   find out why things were not working, and it  basically boiled down to the fact that there   are multiple manual steps that had to be taken  that could fail at any point and often did.   So, the first step was to fill out the  spreadsheet. Then, during the final design,  

some of those activities might need to  be updated. So they had to be updated   if something comes out of permitting or  right-of-way that needs to be added to   it. They need to be added and people need to know  about this and keep that spreadsheet up to date. Then everything needs to go from the  spreadsheet to the appropriate plans,   such as showing wetland fencing on the erosion and  sedimentation control plan, and creating special   provisions for mitigation activities that require  them. After that, all of these things need to be   communicated to the contractor and make sure  that those activities happen during construction   and get signed off when they're completed. Then  finally, once the project is all wrapped up, any   commitments that we made for maintenance or  monitoring. Storm water control facilities  

are often an example of a facility that  needs to be monitored after construction.   As are permitting responsible wetland mitigation  sites that we create during construction.   That all needs to be communicated  to the proper units. Either county   maintenance or back to the environmental  unit if they have to monitor a wetland. So, we worked on a solution, and the solution  was to do a number of different things, but the   first was very simply to step up the QA reviews  on mitigation on construction projects, and we   now get a quarterly report from the QA unit under  construction led by Brent Triplepiece who fills us   in on the inspections they've done and whether  or not there were any problems with mitigation.   We are wrapping up the process of updating  appendix T of DM1X to reflect the changes that   have happened in our procedures and updating the  project office manual to emphasize mitigation and   pre-construction meetings to make sure that not  only is the system that I'm about to talk about   in place and working, but that the contractors  understand what's expected during construction.

And then the really innovative part of  this was to move the tracking into ECMS.   A lot of what we do with mitigation is try  to get it into the contract documents so that   we're updating special provisions, we're putting  notes on plans, we're putting drawings on plans,   and now we have this additional checklist of  mitigation activities that need to happen.   So, moving all of that into ECMS  put it in a system that has rules   and validation and roles and responsibilities  that are well defined, and we can do things like   make sure that everything that needed to be  done prior to advertising is actually completed,   and that the project development checklist is up  to date based on what's actually in the system. At   the other end, we can make sure that the project  isn't finalized until all of the construction   mitigation items have been closed, and there's  a process for closing them in the system when   they're completed during construction. So, ECMS  eliminated the problems of moving information from   design to construction to post construction  manually, relying on email attachments, and   it automates the communication among the inspector  in charge, project inspectors, contractors during   construction and really helps loop people in  that need to be looped in during that process. So now, the system went live back in  February of 2020, and when you log in   now to a project in ECMS, you'll see under  the solicit column there's a mitigation link,   and again, under the construct column,  there's a construction mitigation link.

When you click on those links, you will see  what is now the spreadsheet but in ECMS.   So, we have a column for activity description,  we have the MPMS number, and ECMS projects can   have multiple NPMS numbers, and the system is  intelligent enough to enable us to do that.   There's an activity status, so mitigation  activities can be active or closed. There   are some things that we promise to do during  final design that we expect to be closed   prior to the project being advertised,  and you can see the activity phase,   the column, we have final design, construction,  and then what the system calls post finalization   maintenance and post finalization monitoring.  So storm water control measure that needs to   be where we need to notify the proper people  that there's maintenance associated with that,   recurring maintenance, that gets tagged in  the system for post finalization maintenance.  

Similarly, if there's post finalization  monitoring for a wetland that was created,   for instance, that we need to monitor for  five years to look for invasive species   and make sure that the wetland gets established,  that gets tagged as post finalization monitoring.   We have resource categories, and those are helpful  when creating the mitigation items and it helps us   figure out whether it has to do with archaeology  or streams, public involvement, just what category   the mitigation activity or item falls under.  There's a reference to the PSNE, which plans. So,   in this example, there are some that most  of these are actually on the E & S plan, the   erosion and sedimentation control plan. We have  start dates and end dates. These are helpful for   when we have time of year restrictions. So  if we have to stay out of the stream between   January and March, that will be noted in the  mitigation item and will show up on this screen. Okay. Each mitigation item, when you click  on it, has a detail screen, and it has the  

same information. This is very terse data in  the ECMS test system, but I think it shows   a few things that are worth noting. So when you  enter the information, you can choose a source   document, and so that could be the NEPA document,  the CE. It could be the permit. It could be a

letter of agreement between PennDOT,  Federal Highways, and the Historical   and Museum Commission. It could be a Section 4F  document that's attached to the NEPA document.   So we list the source document. We have  an activity description, and that's   stating what actually needs  to be done or not done.   We specify the resource impacted and, in  this example, it's the Susquehanna River. On the right hand column, we really urge  people to put construction stations into the   mitigation items. So especially where you  have wetlands or other features that can  

correspond to a construction station, it really  helps locate where it is, the PSNE reference,   if it is on a plan or, you know, note on a plan or  a plan sheet. Then we ask that that be filled out,   but we also have the ability to link to special  provisions, and when people enter this information   in ECMS, they can click on the magnifying  glass icon which will take them to the list   of special provisions that have been created, and  if the special provision has been created that's   related to this mitigation item, that link  is established so we cross reference with   the special provisions. You'll also note that  there are up to three pair of start and end dates   for when we have time of year restrictions  that covers multiple construction seasons. Okay. The innovations that I just demonstrated  in the design side, the solicit side,  

of ECMS carry over to the construction side of  ECMS, and there the inspector in charge is really   the person most responsible for maintaining the  ECMS, the mitigation tracking ECMTS and ECMS,   and the IIC can update mitigation activities.  So, time of year restrictions we sometimes get   a waiver from, for instance, the Fish and Boat  Commission to change the time of year restriction.   Maybe take two weeks off of it at the end so  we can start construction a little bit earlier.   Those edits can be made really without any  special permissions by the IIC in the system.  

However, there is a possibility to  do larger edits either to, you know,   really change or update something that happened  that needs to be addressed during construction, or   to actually add an entirely new mitigation item,  and that can happen. We've had situations where   earthwork ended up uncovering an unmarked  cemetery, so we have to stop the work,   work with the Historical and Museum Commission to  develop mitigation, and then at some point, when   that coordination is finished, we actually have  to enter into the mitigation tracking what it is   that we agreed to do to, you know, deal with the  remains that were found in the unmarked cemetery.   We've had situations where mitigation actually  failed. We had promised to do something,   and for one reason or another, we did not do that.  We blasted when we weren't supposed to, or we,   you know, promised to not demolish a bridge so  that it fell into the stream, and it ended up   falling into the stream anyway. There are numerous  situations that, for one reason or another, don't  

work out the way we said that we promised to make  them work out, and in that case, we need to close   the mitigation activity that we're tracking and  close it so that there's an explanation for why   we're closing it, and then create a new mitigation  activity after coordination with the official with   jurisdiction or the agency that has jurisdiction  over the resource that we inadvertently impacted.   In that case, a work authorization can be created,  and once that is done, the IIC can create a new   mitigation activity almost invariably with the  assistance of the district environmental unit,   and that work authorization needs to be  entered into the new mitigation activity. So, another part of this is the contractor's  responsibility, and the contractors must   designate a person responsible for mitigation  which is a security role in each CMS. So,   closing a mitigation activity. Say a time of  your restriction has ended. Both the IIC and  

the contractor's person responsible need to,  essentially, sign off on the mitigation activity,   and the way that that works is that either  one, either the IIC or the person responsible,   can initiate the process of closing it, and  whoever starts it will place a comment in on the   mitigation activity and initiate the close, and  then that mitigation item, closing that mitigation   item, shows up in the other person's work  cue, and that person then also adds a comment,   and at that point, the designation switch switches  from active to closed on the mitigation item. This   is a check and a balance, and this takes the place  of the signature sheet that I showed earlier.   So it's organic to the system. It's integrated  with the system, and it's not something that  

requires people passing paper around.  The comments are also very helpful. So,   in a situation where mitigation does not go well -  well in a situation where mitigation does go well,   the comments are usually pretty terse. You know,  this mitigation item was in compliance and is now   closed, and the IIC or the person responsible  follows up with their part of the closing   procedure and says 'I agree' or something along  those lines. But when something doesn't go well,   there should be an explanation for why not so if  we end up blasting when we weren't supposed to,   there's an opportunity for one party or  the other to explain why the time of year   restriction was violated. Maybe it was, you know,  a different interpretation of how the mitigation   activity was written, or perhaps there  was other extenuating circumstances. So,   that's why we have the comments  in there, and they really help   dissect what went wrong so we can  learn from that and move forward.

Another part of this is inspection that is  targeted directly to the mitigation activities,   and for that, the project site activities, the  PSA, was updated in ECMS and in the PSA app   to have a section devoted to mitigation items. So,   it draws from the mitigation  items that are identified in   ECMS under the construction mitigation screen,  and it works just like construction items. So   an inspector chooses a mitigation activity  and notes whether or not it's in compliance.   If it is not in compliance, the inspector must  write a comment and explain what's going on. This is part of the process of  tracking and really making sure that both that we do what we said we promised  we would do when we made the commitment,   but also that we can show in an audit that we  were keeping track of the mitigation activities.  

A future plan is to have weekly reports run  against the PSAs for projects in construction   to indicate which items are out of compliance,  and another report to show which items have not   been inspected, and the idea would be  to send those reports automatically to   the IIC but also to the ADE for  construction and the environmental manager. So, this presentation is more of an overview,  not really getting into the nuts and bolts of   how to actually use the system. I wanted to focus  on the problem we were trying to solve, and how   adding the ECMS functionality to ECMTS went  a long way towards solving that problem.  

We do have training videos, and this slide shows  the training videos and the YouTube short links   for six videos that we put together for the design  side, the solicit side, of ECMTS, and those are   available. It's a private YouTube channel, so if  you search for it you won't find it, but if you   have the link you'll be able to watch the videos.  Each video is roughly five minutes long or so.   They're not very long videos, but it really gets  into the nuts and bolts of how to use the system. Similarly, in PPCC there are four ECMTS  training videos, and you can see it's under   the references tab, and then you go to central  office and then ECMS user guides and videos,   and then there's a folder, ECMTS  Training Videos, and you can see the   sort of the breadcrumb of links in the light  gold bar at the top underneath the title bar,   and this explains how to close out mitigation  commitments. There's a video for the contractor   on how to add the person responsible to the team.  There's how to edit and add mitigation commitments   and monitoring mitigation commitments in the PSA.  So these videos are out there. They're relatively  

easy to get to. We're in the process of adding the  construction videos to YouTube as well and making   those links more widely available, especially  to consultants who don't have access to PPCC. That about wraps it up for the presentation.  I will say that over the past year or so,   closer to a year and a half now, we've had a  number of questions from the districts as this   was rolled out. John Burnett and I presented at  a number of winter schools to talk about this.   Had some questions from consultants, but  generally everything has been very well received,   and people find it easy to use. Much easier to use  than the paper-based ECMTS. We've also continued   to receive reports from Brent Triplepiece and his  QA staff, and the mitigation compliance is much   better than it was when the Federal Highways  IOP happened. Here's my information on the  

left. Phone number and email address, and John  Burnett's information. He really is the subject   matter expert on the construction side and was  instrumental in setting the requirements for how   that end of the mitigation tracking system  works. Thank you for your time and attention.

2022-07-16 12:14

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